Working parents who are on coronavirus support schemes will remain eligible for childcare support even if their income falls below the minimum threshold requirement, the government has announced
From 1 November, eligible working parents who receive support through the new job support scheme (JSS) and extended self-employed income support Scheme (SEISS) will continue to receive their childcare entitlements, including the 30 hours offer and tax-free childcare, even if their income levels fall below the threshold temporarily whilst on these schemes.
The move follows the publication of new data showing that more parents are getting back to work after the impact of the pandemic. Official statistics on early years have found that children’s attendance at the majority of nurseries, preschools and childminders is now at 86% of pre-coronavirus daily levels.
This is set to increase further as the latest parent survey by Ipsos MORI shows that in September 94% of parents whose child received formal childcare before the pandemic were either using formal childcare now, or were intending to return their child to formal childcare if they could by January 2021.
It also shows that among those families who had returned to using formal childcare in September 71% were at the same nursery, preschool or childminder as before the pandemic, while half were using the same number of hours of formal childcare as before.
Only one in eight were using fewer hours, while more than one third (35%) had increased their hours of formal childcare.
Karl Khan, director general HMRC customer service, said: ‘We want everyone to get the money they are entitled to, and there’s a range of support available to help families with childcare costs. We’d encourage parents to check the childcare choices website to see which offers will work best for them.’
The minimum income threshold for 30 hours free childcare and tax-free childcare is usually equal to 16 hours per week at the national minimum wage.
In response to the challenges faced by working parents during the pandemic, the government announced in May that those who were previously eligible, but whose income temporarily dropped as a direct result of the pandemic, retained access to support through both these schemes.
The Department for Education, which provides 30 hours free childcare to eligible three- and four-year-olds in England, reported it has seen 180,000 applications and around 430,000 reconfirmations for 30 hours places since March 2020, demonstrating the importance of protecting parents’ eligibility.